M.A. Program: FAQ

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE M.A. PROGRAM

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS


QUESTIONS ABOUT THE M.A. PROGRAM

 

How many students do you accept each year into the residential M.A. program?

Typically, 25 to 30 students are offered admission each year. Annual enrollment in the program, which normally takes two years to complete, totals about 50 students.

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What are the different areas of emphasis in the program?

Our students choose among five programs of study:

  • Interdisciplinary Health Communication
  • Journalism
  • Strategic Communication
  • Visual Communication
  • Theory and Research

We also offer two dual-degree programs. The J.D./M.A. dual degree combines the Theory and Research program of study with graduate study in law. The dual degree in Environment and Science Communication combines the Journalism, Strategic Communication or Visual Communication program of study with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies or environmental science.

Visit our curriculum page to read about these programs of study and their respective requirements and faculty members.

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Is the program theoretically or professionally oriented?

We deliver both. Students in the Journalism, Strategic Communication and Visual Communication programs of study prepare for careers in industry. The Theory and Research program of study is designed for students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees, careers in academia (teaching and research) or non-academic research positions. The Interdisciplinary Health Communication program of study provides students with specialized training in the field of health communication and builds expertise for applied practice, academic and research settings.

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How long does the program take to complete?

The residential M.A. program typically takes two years to complete. It requires three semesters (fall/spring/fall) of full-time coursework (33 to 36 credit hours) and a final semester in which students complete a comprehensive exam and a thesis or thesis project (three credit hours).

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Can the M.A. program be completed on a part-time basis?

This degree program is designed for full-time students based on course sequencing and timing. Applicants interested in a part-time master’s option are encouraged to consider the online M.A. in Digital Communication degree program.

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What are the differences and similarities between the on-campus and online master’s programs?

Both programs feature the expert faculty and individual attention that are the hallmarks of graduate education at the UNC MJ-school, but there are several key differences between the M.A. in Media and Communication and the M.A. in Digital Communication. The residential program features a curriculum that is customizable to meet the needs of students with a variety of goals and interests, while the online program features a broad, prescribed curriculum designed specifically for working professionals with at least three years of communications experience. See the chart below.

  M.A. in Media and Communication M.A. in Digital Communication
Delivery Residential Online
Duration Two years 2.5 years
Full-time/part-time status Full-time Part-time
Credit hours 36-39 30
Typical pace Four courses per semester for three semesters Two courses per semester for four semesters (plus one summer course)
Final semester Thesis or thesis project Thesis or thesis project
Curriculum/course schedule Customized based on program of study and career/research interest Prescribed—nine specific online courses taken in order
Typical class size 20 students or fewer 20 students or fewer
Starting semester Fall Fall
Admissions deadline Mid-December Mid-March
Professional experience required None Three years in communications role(s)
GRE required Yes Yes
Credit transfer from Certificate in Digital Communication Up to two courses (any) Up to two courses (MEJO 711 and 713)
School/university fellowships available Yes (no separate application required) No
Federal financial aid available
(via UNC-Chapel Hill)
Yes Yes

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What if my undergraduate degree is not in communication, journalism or a related field? Will I still be considered for admission?

The program is designed to meet the needs of many different types of students; among those are holders of bachelor’s degrees in other areas.

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Can I transfer credits or grades from other institutions into the program?

The School of Media and Journalism does not accept credit hour transfers from other graduate programs.

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What is tuition for the program?

  • Estimated full-time annual tuition and fees for in-state students for 2017-18 are $7,632 per semester ($15,264 per academic year).
  • Estimated full-time annual tuition and fees for non-residents for 2017-18 are $15,658 per semester ($31,316 per academic year).
  • Tuition and fees are subject to change and generally increase each academic year. New rates will be posted by the University Cashier.
  • The Graduate School provides cost-of-living estimates and comparisons with other institutions.
  •  

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What funding opportunities exist for residential M.A. students (e.g., fellowships, assistantships)?

Each applicant is automatically considered for school-based fellowship funding, which may cover tuition, fees and health insurance, as well as a stipend. The school typically offers 8-10 fellowships for each entering class. The Graduate School also awards a few highly competitive fellowships and merit assistantships. The school nominates applicants each year for these awards. More information is available on our cost and funding page.

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How do I establish residency to qualify for in-state tuition?

Accepted students who wish to be classified as a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes must complete and submit the online residency application, available from The Graduate School.

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Who administers the program?

The program is administered by the MJ-school's Office of Graduate Studies. The program director is Professor Tom Linden, and Senior Associate Dean Heidi Hennink-Kaminski oversees all of the school's graduate programs.

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How can I learn more about the program?

We offer online info sessions every fall for prospective students. Our graduate program staff and M.A. program director are available to answer your questions and connect you with more resources. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies at mjgrad@unc.edu or (919) 843-9471 to be added to our program email list or ask a question.

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS

 

When is the application deadline for the residential M.A. program?

Our application deadline is the second Tuesday in December. More information on the application timeline is available on our admissions page.

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How do I pay the $87.50 application fee?

The $87.50 application processing fee can be paid online through the online application system via credit/debit card (Visa/Mastercard). You may also send a check drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars payable to UNC-Chapel Hill to:

The Graduate School - Admissions
Campus Box #4010, 200 Bynum Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC, 27599

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I cannot afford the application fee. Is it possible to request a waiver?

Please visit The Graduate School's website to determine whether you are eligible for an application fee waiver and for instructions on how to request an application fee waiver.

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What are the minimum requirements for admission?

Minimum criteria for all applicants include:

  • A recognized undergraduate degree
  • An undergraduate GPA of “B” or better (3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale)
  • Minimum Verbal GRE score at 55th percentile
  • Minimum Quantitative GRE score at 50th percentile
  • Analytical Writing GRE score of 4.5

For more information, please visit our admissions page.

Applicants below these standards will need to demonstrate substantial compensatory qualifications to be considered. Meeting the above criteria is not a guarantee of admission.

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If I am an International student, must I take the TOEFL or IELTS exam?

International students must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam. Instructions and exceptions are explained on The Graduate School's website. Applicants must achieve the following scores:

  • Internet TOEFL exam: 105 or higher
  • Computer TOEFL exam: 260 or higher
  • Paper-based TOEFL exam: 620 or higher
  • IELTS exam: 7.5 or higher

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Can letters of recommendation be sent electronically?

Yes, all application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be submitted electronically through The Graduate School’s online application system. Applicants will be prompted to provide the names and contact information for a minimum of three persons who will write letters of recommendation. Each recommender will receive an email with instructions on how to upload their letter of recommendation into the online system or how to mail a sealed, printed copy of the recommendation directly to The Graduate School.

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May I submit more than three letters?

Yes, you may have more than three letters sent on your behalf.

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Is a statement of purpose required? If so, how long should it be?

A statement of purpose is required for each application. A typical statement for applicants to the M.A. program is 2-3 pages in length. In the statement, you should indicate your interests and career goals and how they fit with those of the program and the faculty. The statement should clearly specify how the graduate degree will contribute to your career goals (professional or academic). Applicants to the theory and research program of study may want to further elaborate on their research interests in their statement of purpose.

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How do I go about sending in my transcripts?

One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded into the application by the December 13th deadline. We only accept unofficial transcripts for application evaluation. Please do not mail transcripts. If you are offered admission, you will be requested to obtain one official transcript for each university attended and given instructions on how to submit those official transcripts.

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What is the minimum GRE score required and how have admitted MA students scored on the GRE?

The following table represents the minimum standards for The Graduate School, the School of Media and Journalism and average scores of admitted students.

  Graduate School minimum MJ-school minimum Admitted-student average, 2017
  # % # % # %
Verbal reasoning 151 50 152 55 158 76
Quantitative reasoning 153 50 153 50 154 53
Analytical writing 3.5 - 4.5 - 4.5 73

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Where and when should I take the GRE?

GRE test scores are good for five years. Applicants may take the GRE at any local testing center. The ETS website provides information on test dates, locations and seat availability. We recommend that you take the GRE between August and October, in case you want to take the test a second time. Testing sessions fill up quickly, so it is important to reserve your test date early.

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When and how and do I submit my GRE scores?

Applicants must take the GRE before the application deadline and self-report their scores in their applications. The scores are to be sent to UNC-Chapel Hill's Graduate School (code #5816) to be matched in the application system.

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Can I take the GRE exam more than one time?

Yes. It is typical that students perform better if they take the test again. A higher GRE score will improve students’ chances for funding and admission, so it may be wise to take the GRE exam again. GRE exam sessions book up quickly, so it is recommended that you schedule your GRE exam sooner rather than later to allow time to retake the exam if desired.

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My official GRE scores will not be available until after the application deadline. Will this affect the review of my application?

Applicants should take the GRE exam no later than the application deadline and post their unofficial test scores in their application. The admissions committee will review applications as long as the rest of the materials have been submitted by the deadline. Unofficial test scores will be replaced by the official scores once they are received by The Graduate School.

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